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First responders face termination as vaccine mandates go into effect

A growing number of first responders in the U.S. are willing to lose their jobs by not complying with COVID-19 vaccine mandates. They won't get the shot, even though COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death for officers.

On his last day as a firefighter in Spokane, Washington, Tim Archer recorded a message.

"I'm wrapping up my last shift after 20 years," he said. "I'll be fired tonight by the city of Spokane."

He joins about 20 other colleagues who have also been relieved for resisting the state's vaccine mandate.

"I really felt like this is in violation of the civil rights that God has given us," Archer said.

Firefighters and police officers in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles are also being given the ultimatum: get vaccinated or lose your job.

Officials say vaccine mandates for city workers are necessary to protect the community. But in many cities, rising crime is the primary public safety issue, now coupled with a lack of policing.

Sergeant Randy Huserik of the Seattle Police Department told CBS News that detectives have been forced to pitch in and go on emergency calls.

"We have, over the last year and 10 months, I've had in excess of 300 officers separate from the department," he said.

In Massachusetts, the state police union believes at least 150 state police officers will resign.

Massachusetts State Police Association President Mike Cherven said a loss like that is "going to be felt everywhere."

"We'll have slower responses," he said. "There'll be case backlogs ... You're going to see less troopers responding to critical incidents."

Officers and firefighters were hoping cities and states would have chosen a path where it wasn't all or nothing. They believe a more suitable alternative would have been to offer regular testing for those who didn't want to get vaccinated.

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